Peter Warne (P) – I wish you wouldn’t talk so much. Now we let a car get away.
Ellie Andrews (E) – And suppose nobody stops for us?
P – They’ll stop all right. It’s a matter of knowing how to handle them.
E – And you’re an expert I suppose.
P – Expert. And I’ll write a book about it. Call it “The Hitchhiker’s Hail.”
E – There’s no end to your accomplishments, is there?
P – You think it’s simple?
E – No.
P – Well, it is simple. It’s all in that old thumb, see? Some people do it like this. Or like this. All wrong. Never get anywhere.
E – The poor things.
P – But that old thumb never fails. It’s all a matter of how you do it, though. Now you take No. 1 for instance. That’s a short jerky movement, like this. That shows independence. You don’t care if they stop or not. You got money.
E – Clever.
P – No. 2, that’s a little wider movement. Smile goes with this one, like this. That means you got a brand-new story about the farmer’s daughter.
E – You figured that out all by yourself?
P – That’s nothing. No. 3, that’s a pip. That’s the pitiful one. When you’re broke and hungry, everything looks black. It’s a long sweeping movement like this. Gotta follow through, though.
E – That’s amazing.
P – But it’s no good, if you haven’t got a long face to go with it.
E – Here comes a car.
P – Okay. Now watch me. I’m gonna use No. 1. Keep your eye on that thumb, baby, and see what happens.
(The car speeds by without slowing down)
E – I’ve still got my eye on the thumb.
P – Something must have gone wrong. I’ll try No. 2.
E – When you get to a hundred wake me up.
(Peter tries all his routines repeatedly, on a procession of cars, one after the other, and finally gives up)
P – I don’t think I’ll write that book after all.
E – No but think of all the fun you had, though. You mind if I try?
P – You? Don’t make me laugh.
E – You’re such a smart aleck. Nobody knows anything but you. I’ll stop a car and I won’t use my thumb.
P – What are you gonna do?
E – It’s a system all my own.
(Ellie walks over to the edge of the road and as a car approaches pulls her skirt up over her leg well above her knee. Scene cuts to the interior of the car where the driver slams on the brake and pulls the emergency brake. Scene cuts to Ellie and Peter sitting in the rear seat of the car they’ve stopped. Ellie is looking pleased and Peter is looking disgruntled.)
E – Aren’t you going to give me a little credit?
P – What for?
E – I proved once and for all that the limb is mightier than the thumb.
P – Why didn’t you take off all your clothes? Then you could have stopped a hundred cars.
E – I’ll remember that when we need a hundred cars.
It Happened One Night – Frank Capra